A study conducted by Boston University professor Michael Siegel, PhD, has found that smoke-free restaurant laws may stop a significant number of teenagers from becoming established smokers. Siegel, a professor in social and behavioral sciences, and colleagues, conducted the study of 3,800 Massachusetts teens in 301 Massachusetts communities.

All participants were between 12 and 17 years old at the beginning of the study. Researchers interviewed the participants at the beginning of the experiment (baseline), 2 years later, and again 4 years later. Results were put into one of three categories, moving from nonsmoker to experimenting, moving from experimenting to established smoker, and moving overall progression to established smoker.

Results found that teens in communities with strong restaurant smoking bans at the start of the study were 40% less likely to progress to established smoker status, compared to those living in towns where the bans were weaker.

“Local smoke-free restaurant laws may significantly lower youth smoking initiation by impeding the progression from cigarette experimentation to established smoking,” write the researchers.

The full study is published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.